Originally published on CU Insight.
This is one of those articles that make little sense if you don’t consider the publication date.
2019? “Huh, I mean, obviously.”
2025? “Oh, they’re talking about those dark times. Things are so fantastic now, it’s almost hard to remember!” (Hopefully)
2020? “Go out? Ha! You Zoom-hack our meeting with many clever jokes!”
Here in mid-2021, I hope the topic will land on understanding minds.
2020 Was Unique for Everyone
Each of us had a different experience through the pandemic. Some made radical changes to lifestyle, with stressors increasing, family dynamics strained, and finances depleted. Others had the “pleasure” of adapting to work from home (hi Zoom!) with social lives crushed.
In my case, little changed. I’ve been WFH for nearly a decade, and 98% of business interactions are over the phone or Zoom. Yes, we were the ones explaining the system to credit union staff before you had to do the same with your parents.
Sharing the Sameness
So I’m used to my immediate environment being constant. Which was both a gift and a, well, you know the rest. At first, the realization that others were facing what I considered normal spurred a creative rush. It was a perfect time to share how I’ve made it work for me.
Something was Happening
During the year, a change slowly progressed, consciously unnoticed. My creativity was lagging. We still put together interesting ideas for business, and I continued to get a few more articles out. But most of it was tweaking existing material to fit changed norms.
While this was all necessary, it shouldn’t have been the bulk of my effort. Why the shift? I’d attribute it to all of 2020. With a wealth of stressors, political insanity, health scares, and a restricted social circle, it’s the excuse to beat all excuses.
When you’re operating in crisis mode all the time, you’re not at your best.
No one should ever have to apologize for how they made it through 2020. You’re still here? Congratulations. And encourage everyone you know to get vaccinated.
It wasn’t until this week that I recognized the change. Why?
For the first time in forever, I’ve visited them again. Sure, I’ve been to Disney and Universal since the pandemic started, but that’s an exercise in schedules, wait times, and distancing from other people. A relaxed connection with others it is absolutely not.
This was a full-on life with a beloved family. A change of people and scenery from when you wake up to fall asleep. For someone who loves traveling and visiting friends as much as me, not having this for over a year was rough.
And the waterfront home doesn’t hurt. These sentences were written to the sight and sound of waves gently flowing against rock walls and wooden docks. Songbirds are celebrating the flowering trees, and destructive yet adorable rabbits bound about the yard.
In the realm of “changing your environment”, this is about the best you can do.
“Oh, hello unique thoughts.”
When you’ve sat in the same home, using the same desk (or sofa, or futon, or bed, or kitchen table) to complete your work, it’s easy to get mentally stuck. And we all know that innovation comes out of change. Which is really difficult to create when nothing changes.
The first day of working here (in a spinning round couch with a view to the water), I finished an entire Learning Library article. That’s unheard-of speed for me. And that’s between when the kids left for and returned from school.
Then there’s this tale, which I only began about an hour ago. It’s no core conversion, but I’ll take the progress!
Lessons from the Beach House
You’ve dealt with a lot. I don’t know your specifics, but it’s only now returning to some sense of, hopefully, better normal. To me, the trip was a delightful wake-up call (or was that the kids?). Maybe there’s some realizations you can glean from my experience:
- Acknowledge your compromise
- In some way, you’ve been off the 100% best version of yourself. It’s ok. Now’s when we can help get it back.
- Get up
- Yes, right now. Stand up. Do some stretches and breathing exercises. Walk around. It’s not just your watch telling you the value of movement. It really does help “get your juices flowing.”
- Change your environment
- If you can sit in front of a body of water, do that. If not, find something different to make your brain go, “oh, that’s neat; haven’t seen it in a while…or ever.”
- Just for a bit, get away from your phone (you can keep your watch on for critical notifications), and let your mind wander. Free dissociation isn’t being “spaced out”, but rather, “connected to the world.” Take that as you will.
In a recovery run, you aim to reclaim what was lost. During your slow journey to “normal”, live in a state of open recovery. And be kind to yourself and others.
Let Your New Ideas Flow
For me, interacting outside my “pandemic bubble” was a welcome shock. Part of what makes a recovery run so interesting is that you often don’t realize what you’ve lost until you get it back. This is about running and also not about running.
Connecting with others helped me connect with myself. And getting up to change my view made all the difference.
How will you unleash your great new ideas?
Featured image credit: My nephew, after he took his mom’s iPhone.